Wake Ed

Wake County school board votes on letting students perform at meeting

tlong@newsobserver.com

It took some wrangling before a quartet of Apex High School orchestra students could perform at Tuesday’s Wake County school board meeting.

One of the students, Ben Shugg, had signed up for the public-comment period to use his three minutes to have the group play Kansas’ “Carry on Wayward Son.” It was part of an effort by orchestra boosters to encourage the school board to expand the district’s strings programs.

School board attorney Jonathan Blumberg urged the board to modify the meeting agenda to specifically allow the performance. During the ensuing discussion, school board vice chairman Tom Benton raised his concerns.

“At the risk of being chastised by a lot of people, I am concerned about the precedent we’re setting,” Benton said. “Are we going to allow different groups to come in and present skits?”

School board Chairwoman Christine Kushner said she was trying to find a middle ground between making counsel happy and allowing the presentation.

Blumberg said that the public-comment policy is designed for an individual to make comments and not for presentations and groups, chorus or skits. Blumberg said he’d be content with amending the agenda to show the presentation was not part of public comment.

Kushner said that by making the presentation an information item it could be the next thing on the agenda.

School board member Jim Martin agreed to amend his motion to make it an information item, but he said he didn’t feel it was necessary. Martin pointed to how at the prior meeting they allowed a representative from the American Heart Association to use the public-comment period to make a presentation and to give an award to the district.

The motion passed unanimously and the performance proceeded. The board discussion took nearly four minutes, longer than the performance.

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